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Jacksonville Travel Guide

Imagine your own adventure in Jacksonville.
Last Updated
:
February 17, 2024
by
Editorial Staff
Jacksonville, Florida, USA downtown city skyline
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Raise your hand if you’ve ever said, “A Jacksonville vacation? Um…hard pass.” We definitely had our fair share of side-eye when we told friends we were headed to Florida’s largest city by land mass that is NOT Orlando or Miami. And yet, this underdog city totally surprised us with its treasures hidden just below the radar.

Because let’s be honest, when one thinks Florida vacay, visions of Mickey Mouse, South Beach clubs, and maybe a rocket launch come to mind. Not necessarily kicking back with some BBQ listening to live music then going on a kayaking tour the next day. But from thriving arts districts to historic neighborhoods to gorgeous parks and nature escapes, Jax serves up Southern hospitality, culture, food, and charm without the long lines and overflowing crowds.

So if you’re looking to experience a more authentic Slice of the South, it’s time to finally show Jacksonville some travel love! And we’ve got you covered with the inside scoop in this comprehensive first-timer’s guide. We’ll scope out all the best places to eat, play, stay, and even sneak in some history lessons between the beach sessions and nightlife shenanigans.

And you’ll discover an awesome vacation spot filled with pleasant surprises perfect for making memorable moments with friends or family. Even our sassy Aunt Janice admitted Jacksonville impressed her – and she never enthuses about anything! So are y’all ready to see what Jacksonville is all about? Well bless your heart, just stick with us and we’ll have you fallin’ in love with The River City by the end, we swear on sweet iced tea and warm biscuits.

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About Jacksonville

Downtown Jacksonville
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Learn more about the city of Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville is the most populous city in Florida, and the largest by area in the contiguous United States. It is the county seat of Duval County, and its city government was consolidated with the county government in 1968. In the 19th century, Jacksonville had its own government but was incorporated into the county government in 1967.

Jacksonville has an extensive park system, including State Parks and National Parks. The city also has many beaches that are popular for water sports and scenic views. It is also home to the Jacksonville Jaguars, a professional football team that has made six trips to the playoffs. Jacksonville’s history is full of legends, including Bobby Bowden and Dan Marino.

Jacksonville has been home to a wide variety of musical artists. The city is home to one of the oldest blues festivals in the country. On April 16, 1910, a group of musicians performed at LaVilla’s first official performance of “The Blues.” Jacksonville’s Springing the Blues festival is one of the country’s longest-running blues festivals. The city is also home to Southern rock band The Allman Brothers, who formed in 1969.

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Why Go to Jacksonville

Main Street Bridge in Jacksonville
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There are many reasons to visit Jacksonville, Florida. The city was founded by the Allman Brothers Band and is home to some of the country’s most iconic musical acts. The city is also home to the renowned Florida Theatre, which has been a staple of the culture since its opening in 1925. It is also home to the world-renowned Jacksonville Jazz Festival, the nation’s second-largest jazz festival.

The city’s many beaches are ideal for beach lovers. Whether you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing place to kick back, or an exciting surf trip, Jacksonville has it all. With beaches like Atlantic Beach, Huguenot Park, and Neptune Beach, you can have a beach vacation for every mood and style. In addition, you can find beachside shops, a drive-in theater, and other fun activities in the area.

Downtown Jacksonville has a thriving art and culture scene. The downtown area is home to the St. Johns River, which meanders through the city. There are plenty of restaurants and shops to explore, including the popular Jacksonville Landing, where you can board a water taxi to search for dolphins. The area is also home to sweet treats like Sweet Pete’s, famous for its sea salt caramels. In the evening, you can stroll the streets and see the many local artists’ works displayed in Hemming Plaza.

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Best Time to Go

Downtown Jacksonville Florida USA
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If you’re planning a trip to Jacksonville, Florida, it’s best to know when the best time of year is. The summer months can be quite hot, and temperatures can drop as low as 50°F during the fall. Winter months, on the other hand, can be relatively mild, but temperatures can still drop to freezing on rare nights. If you’re considering visiting the city in the winter, there are several great options for cheap hotel rates.

The city’s thriving downtown area is full of restaurants, shops, and parks. There are several museums, theaters, and galleries. There are also plenty of hotels, cafes, and bars to enjoy. Visitors are sure to have a great time in this vibrant part of the city. This makes Jacksonville a top travel destination in Florida.

Jacksonville has an international airport. The airport is only a few miles away from downtown, so traveling to and from the city is easy and convenient. You can rent a car, use Uber, or hail a taxi at the airport. You can also use the intercity bus system, which connects the airport with downtown. If you want to avoid using a car, there’s also an Amtrak train station that’s about 5 miles (8 km) away from downtown. It’s a convenient and inexpensive way to get around the city.

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How to Get Around

Map of Jacksonville in Florida State, USA
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There are a variety of ways to get around Jacksonville. You can rent a car or use public transportation to get around the city. Local car rental companies are cheaper than national chains and have better service. You can also ride a bike to explore the city. Many residents use bicycles for transportation in Jacksonville. Bike rentals are also popular in some neighborhoods. Walking around the city is a great way to get to know your new neighborhood.

Bus service is available in Jacksonville, but it’s not very reliable. The bus system is centered in downtown and rarely runs on time. The traffic downtown is notoriously heavy, and the bus service is not the ideal choice if you’re trying to get from point A to point B. Moreover, buses aren’t made for the late-night crowd.

If you want to enjoy the city without a car, you can take the monorail or bus service. Alternatively, you can take a trolley, which is an old-fashioned form of transportation. If you’re planning a vacation to Jacksonville, you’ll want to consider these transportation options.

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Best Restaurants

Restaurant view of Marker 32 Restaurant
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As a large beach city, Jacksonville, Florida, offers a great variety of fine dining establishments. From classic French cuisine to fresh seafood, Jacksonville has something for everyone. The city’s wine cellar offers a great selection of world-class wines and cuisine. Whether you are looking for a romantic dinner for two or a family reunion, you are sure to find it at a restaurant in Jacksonville.

One of the best restaurants in Jacksonville is the Marker 32. Owned by a trained chef from the Culinary Institute of America, the restaurant offers a unique fusion of familiar and exotic dishes. A recent meal included grilled lamb chops with rosemary spaetzle and oven-dried tomatoes in a mushroom chardonnay sauce.

For a casual meal, the Duck’s neighborhood watering hole serves up a selection of American fare and fresh seafood. The atmosphere is quaint and inviting, and the restaurant often hosts live music, such as dueling pianos and DJ dance parties. The menu is varied and the wait staff is friendly and knowledgeable.

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Things to Do

Jacksonville Downtown
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When it comes to things to do in Jacksonville, Florida, there are plenty of activities to choose from. If you’re interested in history, the city is home to the Mandarin Museum. This museum features an impressive collection of art, as well as acoustic instruments. It also hosts events such as the Mandarin Art Festival, which showcases the work of hundreds of artists each year. You can also visit the historic Bird Island Park, which is one of the prettiest parks in Florida.

Another popular museum in Jacksonville is the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville. Located downtown, this museum houses over one thousand works of art. This museum also features a variety of events throughout the year, including the free Art Walk on the first Wednesday of every month. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children, with free admission for students and military veterans.

If you are hungry, you may want to try a bite at the Metro Diner. Located in Jacksonville, this diner is the perfect destination for a quick bite. The Metro Diner is also part of the Timucuan Parks Foundation, a nonprofit organization that honors the land of Florida’s early Native American people. Aside from the delicious grub, the Metro Diner offers plenty of fun activities.

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Neighborhoods to Know

Luxury beachfront homes in Jacksonville Beach FL
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If you want to know what you can do in Jacksonville, it’s important to know which neighborhoods are worth checking out. The Southside neighborhood is home to many great restaurants and entertainment options. It is also close to several popular attractions, including the University of North Florida and St. Johns Town Center, which offers amazing retail options and office space. This neighborhood is a popular choice for families and single professionals who want to live in a vibrant community.

San Marco is another neighborhood that you’ll want to check out. The area is known for its Italian influences, and the town square is a popular spot for people to hang out. The area also offers incredible dining, sensational boutiques, and an art gallery. You can also check out the San Marco Theatre, which was built in 1929. You’ll find upscale clothing and home goods shops in this area, as well as a quaint independent book store. The neighborhood has an ethnic feel, and is one of the safest in Jacksonville.

Riverside is one of Jacksonville’s oldest neighborhoods. It is also considered one of the coolest parts of the city. Riverside has everything from upscale apartment buildings to modern single-family homes. It’s also close to downtown Jacksonville, but it’s far enough away to enjoy a more relaxed pace of life.

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Weather

Skyline of Jacksonville, FL and Main Street Bridge
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The weather in Jacksonville, Florida is ideal for outdoor activities. The city boasts 221 sunny days per year, making it a pleasant place to visit throughout the year. Even in winter, the weather remains comfortable, allowing you to avoid the larger crowds and still enjoy the outdoors.

During the summer months, temperatures remain warm, while winters are brief but partly cloudy. Jacksonville’s average temperature is 46°F. It rarely falls below 32°F and rarely reaches 90°F. The best times to visit Jacksonville are late March to late May, and early October to mid-November.

Jacksonville experiences mild seasonal variations in its average hourly wind speed. During the windier part of the year (September 14 to May 31), the wind speed averages over six miles per hour. The calmer part of the year (June 31 to September 14) is only half as windy.

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